After a quick trip up to Cape Grim, where we saw lots of diary and wind farms, we headed over to the west coast in search of Tasmanian Devils. Xavier’s class has challenged him to see 10 Tassie Devils. In the last 15-20 years this poor animals population has plummeted by over 80% due to the facial cancer that is spread by contact between individuals so this is a particularly hard one.
Not ones to give up easily we headed towards the northern end of the Tarkine at Arthur River, the last bastion of the population where the disease hasn’t spread to yet (though it is feared it is only a couple of years away). The Parks and Wildlife rangers in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area visitor information centre there were fantastic, with such a detailed knowledge of the area and extraordinary capability and patience with the kids. We got information from where to find burrowing crayfish to how to make craft from kelp as aboriginal women used to do.
We moved into the camp area recommended to have Tassie Devil sightings. Good news – very few other campers so Amanda promised she would cook up a very meaty dinner, hoping the smell would lure them in.
Before that we visited the edge of the world to throw a stone into the water. There is no land to the west between here and South America. Walking along the beach, where massive tree trunks lie scattered amongst the rocks, Xavier found some footprints in the sand – could they be a Tassie Devils? Make your own mind up but we thought they looked like they could be.
As dusk approached, dark shapes appeared on the edges of the campground but these were just the browsing Pademelons moving in on the grass. As daylight failed we pulled out torches and waited, then when we could wait any longer we actively scoured the entire campsite spotting only numerous Pademelon and Tawny Frogmouths. Disheartened we went to bed knowing we still had another day!